Due Date, Late Penalty & Interest
The normal due date for all property tax is December 5 of the tax year. Payments for Personal Property Tax, Real Estate Tax, Business Equipment Tax, and Merchants’ Capital Tax (routine yearly assessments) must be paid or postmarked on or before December 5. Payments for all Statutory Assessments (e.g., assessments resulting because a taxpayer filed no tax return or an incorrect return) and Supplemental Billings are due fourteen (14) days after the tax is assessed, unless otherwise stated on the notice.
LATE PAYMENT PENALTY and INTEREST
The late payment PENALTY is ten percent (10.00%) of the tax amount not paid or postmarked by the due date. INTEREST, at ten percent annually (10% APR), is assessed on the unpaid tax amount plus the penalty beginning on December 6 (the first (1st) day following the due date) and accrues on the first (1st) of each month thereafter until paid in full (Code of Virginia of 1950, as amended, § 58.1-3916).
A late payment penalty is required by law for all untimely payments (Code of Virginia of 1950, as amended, §§ 58.1-9 and 58.1-3916). The law specifies that payments made by mail must be postmarked by no later than the due date. Thus, taxpayers use the mail at their peril, and anyone who mails a payment on time that is not postmarked on time is required by law to pay the late penalty. The United States Post Office mark, not a postal meter stamp, is the official and final postmark. If the Post Office postmark conflicts with a postal meter stamp, the Post Office postmark must be used (1985-86 Report of the Attorney General 295, July 9, 1985). The only exception to the postmark rule is if the Treasurer’s office received no payment and the taxpayer can show, with appropriate documentation, that payment was sent before the due date (1980-81 Report of the Attorney General 348, April 22, 1981). Any documentation supporting a determination that penalty does not apply must be approved by the Treasurer.
Penalty and interest cannot be waived because:
- the taxpayer did not know the deadline or misread the deadline on the tax bill (1987-88 Report of the Attorney General 559, August 22, 1988);
- the taxpayer did not receive a bill (1970-71 Report of the Attorney General 373, March 31, 1971);
- the bill was mailed to the wrong address (1981-82 Report of the Attorney General 393, March 25, 1982);
- the bill was incorrect (1986-87 Report of the Attorney General 321, July 31, 1986);
- the taxpayer received erroneous information from County staff, whether in person or over the telephone (1981-82 Report of the Attorney General 350, May 13, 1982).
A late payment penalty and interest are not imposed if the late payment was due to a medically determinable physical or mental impairment on the due date, provided payment is made within thirty (30) days of the due date. Penalty and interest are not imposed to the extent the Commissioner of the Revenue abates the underlying tax or certifies that the taxpayer was not assessed in a timely manner due to a clerical error by the Commissioner of the Revenue’s staff, or if the late payment was due solely to the fault of the Treasurer or the Commissioner of the Revenue (i.e., if any act by the taxpayer contributes to the lateness, penalty and interest must apply). Otherwise, penalty and interest are imposed automatically by law if payment is late, and there can be no "waiver" of penalty or interest. Either penalty and interest apply or they do not. The bottom line is that taxpayers have a duty to know tax due dates and to pay on time. If no bill is received, that duty includes contacting the taxing authority prior to the due date and paying on time (1981-82 Report of the Attorney General 393, March 25, 1982).